Dopamine and cognitive functioning in de novo subjects with Parkinson's disease: effects of pramipexole and pergolide on working memory.
Author(s): Costa A, Peppe A, Dell'Agnello G, Caltagirone C, Carlesimo GA
Affiliation(s): I.R.C.C.S. Fondazione Santa Lucia, Roma, Italy. email@example.com
Publication date & source: 2009-04, Neuropsychologia., 47(5):1374-81. Epub 2009 Feb 7.
Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial
Very few studies have investigated the relationship between dopaminergic therapy and working memory (WM) functioning in Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. The aim of the present study was to explore the effects of pharmacological treatment with pergolide (a D1+D2 receptor agonist) and pramipexole (a D2+D3 receptor agonist) on performance in visual-spatial, visual-object, and verbal WM tasks in PD patients. Participants included 19 "de novo" PD patients and 13 healthy controls (HC). The experimental task consisted of an n-back paradigm with verbal, visual-object, or visual-spatial stimuli. PD patients performed the task twice: after 18-24 h of therapy wash-out and after administration of pergolide (nine patients) or pramipexole (ten patients). HCs performed the task only once, without drug administration. Depending on how they performed in the "Off" and "On" therapy conditions, the nine PD patients each were classified into groups of low performers (i.e., performance on the n-back paradigm was below the median value of the experimental sample) and high performers (i.e., performance was above the median value). One PD patient was excluded from the analysis because his performance pattern clearly revealed that he was an outlier. In the low performer PD patients, administration of both pergolide and pramipexole improved accuracy on all WM tasks. No effect of the drugs was found in the high performer patients. The results of the present study show that stimulation of dopaminergic receptors improves high-level WM processes in PD patients, possibly by modulating activity in frontal-striatal circuits.